Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visit to the Ashram

Our office is organizing a fund raising program – the money will be used to gift toys and clothes to kids living in Ashrams. These ashrams have kids from poor families, some orphans, some abandoned by their parents or relatives. Some kids get to visit their families few times in a year, while others just wait for someone to come visit them.
As part of this program, I along with few colleagues visited few ashrams to collect the names of the kids and their wishes. Wishes varied from stuff toy to clothes to school bags and even umbrellas. Nothing fancy!

It was my first visit to an Ashram for kids. It was just great to see the enthusiasm of the kids and of course the volunteers. Most of the kids were from class 1, 2 and 3. Tiny hands with small fragile body frame but with hopeful eyes full of energy and excitement. Who doesn’t like gifts? Don’t we feel happy when we get a gift? The kids were pleased to see new people visiting them and when they were told that they could choose a gift, their happiness was unbound. The kids could only understand Kannada, the local language. But I was too excited not to talk. I started talking in Konkani hoping at least someone may know the language. And luckily, couple of kids did know and it helped. They followed what I spoke and explained to the rest of the kids in the group. It was a nice and a new experience for me.

After the session the kids were asked to leave and get back to whatever they were doing. We waved bye to them as I followed a few of them. Some of them were washing clothes, some cleaning the floor, some studying; all on a single table while a young 15 yrs old took their lessons, some were carrying big buckets of water, others helping in cooking. It touched me how they quickly geared themselves back to their chores – knowing the gifts and our visit session is just a few moments of fun and may be a little change from their routine life. 

Few days later I got to know that there were couple of Ashrams yet to be visited. I was free and decided to join the few others going there. I was told these ashrams were of HIV infected kids. Oh! I did not know what to expect when I walk into the shelter home. Would the children have some scars? Would they be looking at you as people from different planet or something? Will the place be clean or more like a hospital? How do HIV infected kids look like? Are they weak and fragile expecting death anytime? I did not know what to expect. May be I had some wrong notions about HIV infection or I was just ignorant. But there I was, yet again waiting to see the unexpected.

So, after almost 1-2 hrs drive we reached the Ashram. As we reached the gate, I could hear laughter; I saw a group of kids playing near the Father Superior’s office. Are those kids HIV infected? They looked just like any other kids. They laughed, played and were having a good time. They were very happy to see us and after we told them about the gifts, they were very excited. They were given a list with few items and asked to select one out of those. Only One? Asks one of the kids. J

We did what we had to do and headed back home. On our way back, I could not thank God enough for the great childhood I got. I only could laugh at myself for the petty things I cry about. Those are all too fancy; I thought to myself!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just the Same

I still remember the day I landed in Mangalore for the first time. Today it is almost 7 years, I have been in and away. But still – everything just the same. Only different version (you cannot expect software professionals to ‘not’ use these words. But you get the point don’t you).

I visit one of the old Malls in Mangalore.
And I STILL see bunch of idle idiots loitering all around only to stare every single girl entering in and out of the mall. The people walking in and out of the mall have changed and so are the eyes staring but still…

I go to a famous ice cream parlor with my friends.
The service is STILL slow and pathetic. The waiters may have changed and so have the customers but still…

I walk around some of the cubicles in office.
People STILL read forwards and IM with friends and colleagues all the time. The monitors have changed and so have the people using it and of course the content on the screen but still…

I see group of friends in office and outside.
One STILL making fun of the other. Or one still being cartoon of the club or a snob of the lot or one who just eats a lot. The people have changed and also may be the jokes or the food but still…

I go meet my managers.
I STILL go with my problems and they still have no solution but some high pitch talk. The problems have changed and so have the color of manager’s hair or even the managers but still…

I live in a shared accommodation.
Roommates STILL have attitudes, some still very friendly. The rooms have changed, and so have the mates but still…

Whatever it is – many things have changed (for good or for bad). And whatever it is – many things still the same (for good or for bad).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Death - do you worry?

What do you want to be remembered as after you die? Does it ever bother you that after you die, world will still go on the way it did and you will be just gone and forgotten?

Well, does it even matter? Anyways you will be dead and will never know what your family or friends are doing. J

Some people may remember and miss you; some may remember how good you made them feel; or how awful you made them feel. Your pictures may be hung on the walls in your homes. Or some rituals may be performed in your name. If you were rich enough, may be you would have bought your name print on a temple donation board and your family members may boast about it or neighbors envy it . May be you were a scholar and made some breakthroughs in some field of science. You may have become talk of the town if you had committed suicide or had an unnatural death or an untimely one.

But how would it matter to you after you are dead? Do you take responsibility towards family, friends, society even after you die?

Isn’t it ridiculous to worry about the time which does not even belong to you. Why care if someone will light a candle in your name or not. Why worry if your family will be miss you or not. Why do you even want to be remembered? People living in this world already have enough going on in their own lives; why add more.

Wouldn’t it be helpful, if instead you did things that made their life easy while you are alive. Take a moment to smile, to live that present moment. Help as many people you can. Be it financially, emotionally or intellectually. Instead of donating towards a gold crown for an idol in a temple, give that amount to an orphan.
We should be open to the thought of death; everyone will die one day or the other. Talk to your kids and family so that it makes them strong and they can learn to cope with the loss better after you die. Some things are not in your hands and death is definitely one of them. So stop worrying about it and about things after it. It will strike you whenever it has to and we cannot avoid it.

When I reached Mangalore office, I got to know one of our office employee died in an accident just a few days before I joined office. The person was just in his early twenties; looking at life with enthusiasm and so many possibilities. I was little disturbed to know about this loss but after a day or two forgot about the incident completely. I have been sitting in one place in one of the cubicles for last one and a half months. I always wondered who must have been using this system before me. I saw many medals and trophies around the place. I wondered if the person would even know or mind if I flicked one among those. Few days later I got to know that this place belonged to the same person who died in the accident.
Would he been thinking how his trophies would be left carelessly? Would he care who uses this system anymore? What would happen if death struck you all of a sudden like this? Have we done our bit in this world?

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I am back from the DSN course. As expected, it was awesome and I have no regrets of taking the course… more so in Mangalore. Most of the course was in Kannada and though I don’t understand any of it, I could make out much of what was being spoken. It was a big class of 70 odd people. Old, young, mostly old J Some could not even understand English but I am happy to have got a chance to connect to them.

Anyway, I don’t want to write details of what DSN is all about but wanted to share one of the sessions that was held in DSN.
It goes like this – People stand in pairs looking straight into each other’s eyes. Then one bows down to the other. The bowing person bows right up to the feet of the other person; as you bow down you have to let go of  all the problems, tensions, thoughts in your mind. You do this act with full attention and trust. The other person should bow and bless you by putting their hands over your head with full heart. Then it was the other person’s turn to bow. Once the process is complete, you move to other person in the room and repeat the same process with new partner.

Seems like a simple process isn’t it? Yes, power lies in simple things J

So what would you expect out of this simple act?

It reminded me of the olden days when children bowed down to elders, elders gave them blessings. Some places in India we still practice this whereas in some places (like my own) it has become only some wedding day special scene or a major festival like Diwali.
Kids find odd to bow down – you may hear some old people go ‘aww, look at him; hasn’t lost his manners’ when a kid bows down. But do they even know why they do that? As far as I am concerned, I would bow down only cos it is meant to do so. I would think, are they God? I bow only before God.
Elders find odd to bless – Imagine you bow down before someone of your age group. Even before you bow, they would pull you up. I myself would find it awkward and embarrassed to see someone bow before you and like some super powered human bless others.

But that day, as I bowed down to others, I had a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude to nature and the God to have taken care of me all this while. I could sense my ego hide away somewhere in some corner of my mind as I looked forward to take blessings from both young and old. I got a sense of belongingness to the unknown people in the room. There was so much faith in every breath – everything will be taken care of I knew.
And when it was my turn to bless – my heart was joyful and giving. My hands moved forward with love and mind was at peace. I prayed that all their prayers get answered and all questions answered. As I closed my eyes, I felt a sense of responsibility towards people around me.

Now I don’t question the tradition of bowing down and taking blessings in Hindu culture. There is some weird sense of satisfaction for both people.

Btw, when I told Purwa (my sis) and Navin (my husband) about the blessing episode, both of them jumped with excitement. ‘So does it mean you can give blessings now? Give me; Give me’. Now how do I tell them it is not something you learn to do in a class. It has always been with you; with pure feeling of Faithfulness and of Giving anyone can give and take blessings.